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Houthi ‘intransigence’ over ending Taiz siege undermining UN-brokered truce, says Yemeni foreign minister

AL-MUKALLA: The Houthis’ violations of the UN-brokered truce in Yemen and their reluctance to lift their siege on Taiz city undermined efforts to end the war and extend the truce, Yemen’s foreign minister said on Monday.

During a meeting with the UN Yemen envoy Hans Grundberg in Aden, Ahmed Awadh bin Mubarak said his government had offered many concessions during the talks that led to the truce, including agreeing to open Sanaa airport, lifting restrictions on Hodeidah seaport, and halting hostilities on battlefields.

The minister said the Houthis had responded to those concessions by resisting calls to end their siege, refusing to use revenues from fuel ships that entered Hodeidah seaport during the truce to pay government employees in areas under their control, and continuing to attack government troops.

“The foundations and objectives of the truce are humanitarian in the first place, and the failure to adhere to any of its basic provisions threatens its chances of success,” the minister told the envoy, the official Saba news agency reported.

Grundberg arrived in Aden on Sunday to meet the head of the Presidential Leadership Council Rashad Al-Alimi and his government, less than a day after discussions between the government and the militia failed to reach a deal to lift the siege and open roads in other provinces.

The discussions in Amman are part of the two-month UN-brokered truce that expires this week.

The truce has led to a significant reduction in hostilities, allowed the resumption of commercial flights from Houthi-held Sanaa airport, and allowed fuel ships to enter Hodeidah port.

Yemenia, the national carrier, said its first weekly commercial flight from Sanaa to Cairo would leave on Wednesday.

The head of the government delegation for talks on Taiz in Amman, Abdul Kareem Shaiban, said the Houthis had rejected all of their proposals for opening the main roads linking Taiz with Aden, Hodeidah, and Sanaa and that a new round of talks would begin in the coming days.

“The priority is to open the main roads in accordance with the terms of the UN truce and to avoid attempts to undermine the human rights of the people of Taiz by opening roads that do not alleviate the suffering of the population,” Shaiban said.

Encouraged by the reduction in violence in Yemen, international mediators and foreign envoys are pushing for a truce extension and turning it into a peace process.

“The international community must work together to ensure the parties turn the truce into a more comprehensive peace process while helping #Yemen stabilize its economy,” US Yemen envoy Tim Lenderking tweeted.

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